Synopsis from IMDB
Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love -- or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! Yes they made another Pirates movie. Now I went into this expecting the usual and after the last two that is not saying much. It is still a bit messy. So much action and not enough breathing room (perfect example, Transformers 2), but not as bad as the previous film. This was fun and you can tell they are at least trying to get back to the basics.
On Stranger Tides is about the Fountain of Youth. Someone is impersonating the beloved Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, yummy!) and they are going around saying he has the map to the Fountain of Youth. Now the English want that map, but it was stolen from Sparrow. Problem is, the English are not the only ones after the Fountain. The Spanish have their own agenda but we know it is something to do with Ponce de Leon’s legacy. So Sparrow is out to find who is impersonating him, where his Pearl is and where the Fountain is before others get there first. He finds that a woman from his past named Angelica (Penelope Cruz) has a special relationship with the world’s scariest pirate, so he needs to work extra hard to make him happy while still trying to keep his head.
I really liked this compared to the last two. The second one wasn’t too bad; the third one was just all over the place. In the fourth installment, they kept it to what people want to see it for. Captain Jack. He was the one who brought most of the laughs in the movie. I mean the first 20 minutes are nothing but Jack and the crazy situations he gets into and the mysterious ways he gets out of them. I am not sure what to make of Penelope Cruz’s character, Angelica, though. Cruz doesn’t do a lot of summer blockbuster films, actually she doesn’t do any. But she is a wonderful actress. They brought her in as Jack’s potential love interest, which I am not sure they truly needed. Cruz was almost able to keep up with Depp’s quirkiness, but let’s face it, many can’t.
Thing is, if Sparrow wasn’t the manipulative man he was, Angelica would have gotten them all killed due to the love of her father, Blackbeard. Blackbeard (Ian McShane) was the most interesting character in this movie, but he wasn’t used as much as he should have been. McShane knows scary and him being Blackbeard was a great choice because he scared the piss out of me. But the movie doesn’t go into his story like I feel they should have. In all the pirate movies, we get a feel of the villains, why they are the way they are. Why they are out doing what they are doing. We don’t know Blackbeard’s story. Why and how did he gain the powers that he did. They said he had his head chopped off but he didn’t die, he can control his ship with a flick of his hand, but why? Which brings up a question, why does Blackbeard need the Fountain of Youth in the first place? I guess just being power hungry, but again, we aren’t given much explanation. If you are going to have McShane play a villain, you need to give him more. I was disappointed that they didn’t.
Another thing I wasn’t a fan of was the romance between the mermaid and the clergyman. I liked the take on the mermaids, they were a mixture of sirens and vampires. The mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and the clergyman (Sam Claflin) had a little love story, but it just used up time. I knew why they needed the mermaid; they needed a mermaid’s tear to make the water from the Fountain of Youth work. Thing is, after all is said and done, I am not sure why Blackbeard kept the clergyman alive. I mean he didn’t do anything but bitch at Blackbeard about how soulless he was and they didn’t even try hard enough to get the actual tear from the mermaid. So what was the point? We got rid of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley and replaced them with two more beautiful people just to have another so-so love story. I just don’t see why they tried.
Another thing I thought odd was the Spanish. I mean if they were trying to defend the Fountain of Youth, but they knew people were out to get it, why not stop the people. Also how did they know where the Fountain was when no one seemed to know and they didn’t have the map either. Again, they weren’t used well in this movie and they should have since it is part of legacy. I also thought Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) was sort of random given what was going on. I mean we find out why he is there and what happened with him, but we didn’t even get a flashback. Again, underused.
Overall, this wasn’t as bad as part three. The movie still loses focus at times and has side plots that just aren’t needed. If it had more focus and scaled down on time, it wouldn’t feel stretched thin. The characters are the ones that drive the movie and they had some talented actors, but they weren’t well developed. That is probably the biggest disappointment for me. Clean up the plot, get rid of the romance and focus on the characters. The action is there, of course, but that shouldn’t be the thing to drive the movie. Don’t watch this in 3D, because it was only taken advantage of maybe twice in the film. Quick question: what was up with Judi Dench? That was a very interesting cameo. Can’t say I blame her for looking for a reason to be felt up on by Depp, but that was just strange. You are Judi Dench! Nonetheless, at least check this out in theaters because like I said, a definite improvement from At World's End.